Lazlo Bane
2001 soundtrack
bt
Cowboy Junkies
Level 42
Van Halen

Men At Work's top 10 hit "Overkill" is as affecting now as it was 13 years ago. Lazlo Bane prove that on their new Short Style EP on Almo Records. In the midst of an otherwise low-impact disc of five songs, the familiar guitar strums of "Overkill" ring out, and Men At Work's Colin Hay takes the mic for a reprise of one of his best works. Why is it in the middle of this otherwise ho hum alternative rock disc? No idea. But it is the best moment on this CD. And the middle guitar solo is updated from the kinder, gentler '80s tones of MAW to a more aggressive '90s rock sound. The EP is worth hearing just for that...

One of the most famous scenes in all of cinema comes at the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey, as apes discover an alien monolith and learn how to use tools. The backdrop to these and other important movie sequences is classical music, and the combination was chilling and effective. Now the soundtrack has been issued on CD from Rhino Movie Music, and includes the songs most associated with the film: "The Blue Danube" and "Also Sprach Zarathustra." The CD booklet includes a long synopsis of the film and its symbolism, and discussion of the musical evolution the soundtrack went through under Director Stanley Kubrick...

I have to admit, I put bt's CD on ahead of the others in my stack when I saw that Tori Amos was a featured contributor to one song. Actually, as it turns out, that song is much of a CD: Ima on Reprise, is a two-disc set by ambient dance music creator bt. Each disc centers around one particular theme, and that theme, amid washes of synthesizers, jungle background noises, and a variety of drumbeats and bass throbs, keeps popping up again and again. This is both enjoyably relaxing and mind-numbing stuff— background music for the electronic set. Tori Amos guests on disc two in a song called "Blue Skies" It's not Amos' best work, by any means—mostly she whisper-croons the title a lot over a kicked-up dance drumbeat, but it is some of the only dance mix work she's done (the remix of her contribution to the Toys soundtrack was more notable). While reading the back of the CD might give you the idea that this is Amos' only appearance on the disc, that's not quite the case: the 13-minute "Delphinium Days Mix" takes dubs of Amos' vocals and stretches the song into some new areas. And then "Sasha's Voyage of Ima," a 42-minute opus abandons Amos' vocal but takes the basic beat and bassline of the song and builds on it with jazz, natural sounds, and other musical tangents for the length of an entire album by most artists' standards. Overindulgent? Yes. Listenable? Also yes...

The Greatest Hits bandwagon continues: RCA has collected some of the best songs from Cowboy Junkies' first six albums. Selected Studio Recordings 1986-1995 includes "Shining Moon" from their independent first LP Whites Off Earth Now!! as well as "Sweet Jane," their breakthrough single from The Trinity Sessions. Also included are their singles "Southern Rain," "Anniversary Song" and "A Common Disaster." This album is a wonderful 14-track document of the Canadian band's steady evolution over the past decade from the echoey sparse beauty of "Sweet Jane" to the cajun country influence and overdubbed harmonies of the silky smooth "Southern Rain" to the bluesy funk guitar of "Anniversary." The collection ends with a new song, a gentle ballad "Lost My Driving Wheel"...

Epiphany: The Best of Chaka Khan is out on Reprise. The 16-song CD includes hits like "I Feel For You" and "I'm Every Woman" as well as a new single "Never Miss the Water" and four other new tracks...

Imago has put together a live collection of Level 42 material. Live At Wembley includes their two big U.S. hits "Something About You" and "Lessons In Love" as well as 11 other tracks...

Van Halen's Best Of Volume 1 is out on Warner Bros. with the controversial two new songs featuring David Lee Roth. It's a good documentation of the rise and fall of a great rock band, opening with one of the most famous pieces of instrumental metal guitar, "Eruption," and progressing through late '70s, early '80s-defining tracks like "Runnin' With The Devil," "And The Cradle Will Rock" and "Panama," and then, with the jump to vocalist Sammy Hagar, descending into the mundane on hits like "When It's Love" and "Right Now." The two new tracks with original singer Roth show that the band could, if it wanted, still mimic its original style, but not recapture its power. Only time will tell if the hiring of Extreme's former singer will give Van Halen the new burst of creativity it needs to be a formative force again, or only continue what has been a steady decline.